August 28, 2007

Entrepreneurs Help Students to Organize

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Cornellians work hard and play hard. In the resulting chaos that is college life, students inevitably miss classes and appointments, sometimes on purpose, but oftentimes simply because they forget. Noticing this problem in their own lives and realizing a potential niche, three enterprising students, Josh Weissenstein ’08, Brad Kraus ’08 and Cody Sauer ’07, de­cided to con­duct an in­dependent study and create a product that will help students re­mem­ber events on their calendars.
After investing their own money, hiring two developers and spending more than a year in development, their idea came to fruition as MyRooster, which is accessed via
“Our product, MyRooster, is an online reminder service with the goal of simplifying the way we as college students remember the many things we have going on a daily basis. We didn’t really see anything out there marketed directly to our demographic; we figured there was a niche there, why don’t we try to fill it? And along the way we did an independent study with Prof. Carvell of the Hotel School, and he made us realize that this would be a worthwhile venture to pursue,” said Weissenstein.
“It’s a to-do list on steroids. It’s a way of not only organizing what you already know and discovering what you don’t, but getting tasks done in a whole new way. [For example], not only can you type ‘purchase flight tickets home’ as a reminder, which will then be sent to your phone at a later, predetermined time, but MyRooster will additionally provide you with a link where you can purchase those tickets. The ultimate goal would be to type in ‘do laundry’ and have someone do your laundry the next day, so it’s syncing it with your current environment,” he added.
To make everything work, MyRooster employs the back office expertise of a technology outsourcing company. Essentially, the technology company provides the infrastructure through which a student’s online reminder request turns into a text message on his or her cell phone. Unfortunately, specifics about the company and costs are unavailable.
Browsing the site reveals a user-friendly and straightforward interface. To start using the service, students need to register and provide some personal information, namely cell phone numbers, at which point students can start sending text message reminders as much as they choose. However, a quick test of service functionality turned out inconsistent, as text message reminders appeared on some users’ phones and not others’.
MyRooster is still in beta testing, so Weissenstein, Kraus and Sauer hope the bugs will be fixed before the final public release. The team is currently collecting what has largely been positive feedback, with most respondents applauding the site’s simplicity and ease of use. In response, the team is focusing on establishing consistency with the services’ basic functionality.
“What we’re focusing on now is the ability for everyone to get free text message reminders to their cell phones, so they can get to their appointments on time and for people to come to our website and find activities they didn’t know about. And maybe in a few weeks, [people] will get their text message reminder while having the ability for our website to send them to different links to help accomplish their tasks,” said Kraus.
In the future, the team plans to increase the breadth and depth of MyRooster by launching initiatives to create an integrated Facebook application, expanding user-created content, and possibly working with Cornell to better alert students to activities on campus.
Despite its shortcomings, MyRooster already has over one hundred user accounts and 18,000 reminders a week after launch. In the future, the team hopes MyRooster will become Cornell’s favorite new computer program.